IMG_0665Communication is a challenge for any marketing team, especially when people have different schedules and some team members work remotely. One way to improve workflow and visualize how content will appear over the next several months is to build a content calendar. If this sounds like a task you just don’t have time for, consider how much effort you put into making lists, sending emails, and calling other team members to stay on track with planning and posting efforts. It also forces you into a mindset of forward thinking rather dealing with the stress of missed deadlines due to a lapse in communication.

Benefits of Working with a Content Calendar

When your company wants to be viewed as an expert in your industry, it’s essential to produce regular content that reinforces that message. People will look to your organization to provide them with information about upcoming events and developments in your area of expertise. If you can’t provide it, they will search elsewhere and may not return. Taking the time to research this information means that you can place it in your content calendar several months in advance. You will know that a local event or an announcement of a new product is coming up and can plan to create content around it.

Plugging in key dates and events is a great way to get started with creating a content calendar for the first time. Using a content calendar allows you to see where you have gaps in content creation so you can make a plan to address it. Consistency is key with marketing, especially when some or all of it takes place online. When the gaps aren’t covered and your agency doesn’t publish any content, it takes away from the credibility you are working so hard to earn.

Steps in Creating Your First Content Calendar

Before you get started, you need to decide how far in advance you want to create your editorial calendar. For industries that move extremely fast, building a calendar one month at a time may be plenty. A quarterly calendar is a better option for slower moving industries that allow a bit more time to think. Whichever interval you choose, be certain to schedule a deadline for creating the next calendar. Setting it up as a recurring task ensures that it doesn’t slip by while you’re busy working with your current calendar.

The next decision you face is defining your target audience. For the sake of example, assume that your company sells sporting goods online. You will need content for the different types of sports, age and ability level of the athletes, seasonal variations, and several others. Once you have identified whom you are marketing to, the next step is to assess your current content and make while also making a plan for new content. Your organization may have material that could easily be updated and published anew, such as old blog posts and notes from company meetings.

As a marketing expert, you probably don’t have the time to write new content yourself. Fortunately, there’s no need to panic. After you have identified the topics you need written about, simply place an open order in your client account or browse the Content Runner Writer Directory to find a freelance professional with the background and experience you need to produce quality content. When selecting topics to assign to writers, we recommend that you visit nTopic first to check for relevant search terms and discover what else you can do to earn higher search engine rankings. Content Runner also has several templates to choose from to make it easier for you to communicate instructions to writers.

Scheduling and Publishing Your Content

After you have gathered the content you need, whether a team member produced it in-house or you outsourced the work to a writer on Content Runner, it’s time to schedule dates for publication. The schedule should also include related social media campaigns that you use to promote each post. Lastly, you need to select a template for your content calendar. You can browse from among eight free versions here.¬†¬†Regardless of the specific template you use, it should include the following information at a minimum:

  • Date periods separated by weeks
  • Specific events that affect your industry, such as the opening of football season for online sporting goods retailers
  • Dates of trade shows, product releases, and other relevant industry information you want to make available to your target audience
  • Dates of company events, such as shareholder meetings and social outings
  • A timeline to publish each piece of content sorted by target audience and topic
  • Social media strategy to accompany each piece of content

Evaluating the Results

Reviewing customer engagement and revenue earned from each piece of content is also an essential part of your marketing efforts. This gives you the opportunity to tweak existing content and have a heads-up on which types of content perform well. Please don’t hesitate to contact the support staff at Content Runner if you need more assistance in your content creation strategy.